By Peter Lim
When "Baby Bull" Juan Diaz walked away from the sport he had competed in since he was 8 in June of 2011, his post-boxing career options seemed limitless. Only 27 at the time, he was accepted into two different law schools after earning millions as a triple-crown world lightweight titleholder. As lucrative as his prizefighting career was, he never splurged and continued to live a spartan life under the roof and rules of his blue collar parents in Houston.
During his two-year-hiatus from the ring, Diaz opted for a career as a venture capitalist in lieu of law school. He founded several diverse businesses, the largest of which being a trucking company that grossed over $2 million last year with 15 employees on its payroll.
But the sedentary life just wasn't for him. He enjoyed the hustle and bustle of building a company from ground up but grew bored with its routine day-to-day operations once it became a sound enterprise. The 25 pounds he packed on from junk food and sitting on his rear end in an air-conditioned office also left a bitter taste in his mouth. As his waistline crept up on him, so did his hunger for regaining pugilistic glory.
Diaz (35-4, 17 KOs) officially announced his return to the ring last week. His first comeback bout is scheduled for April 13 against Pipino Cuevas Jr. (16-9, 14 KOs) in Corpus Christi, Texas. Cuevas, as you might have have guessed, is the son of the Mexican icon of the same name.
"There's nothing else for me to do than to come back and conquer the lightweight division like I once did," Diaz told The Houston Chronicle. "This time around, I know what it's going to take to get better and stronger and become not only a good champion but a great champion."
Diaz, 29, hired a nutritionist, and after three months of resuming a training regimen under Derwin Richards and Tim Knight at the Savannah Boxing Club, he is seven pounds shy of meeting the 135-pound lightweight limit. Should his second career unfurl the way he envisions, Diaz will embark on a hyper-hectic fight schedule, much like he did as a teenage prospect, to fast track to a world title shot.
"I'm thinking of fighting four times this year, my first two fights being tuneup-type fights and then stepping it up in the next two," Diaz told the Chronicle. "By the beginning of next year, I want to face the champion."
The lightweight division looks very different from the way Diaz left it. Diaz wrested the WBA belt from Lakva Sim in 2004 and the won the WBO title from Acelino Freitas and the IBF belt from Julio Diaz in 2007. Now, the young, cocky and undefeated WBC titlist Adrian Broner is at the top of the heap of the division. Miguel Vasquez, Ricky Burns and Richar Abril hold the WBO, IBF and WBA titles respectively.